When it comes to business productivity, just like in anything else in life, people find a comfort zone and generally tend to settle in there. So, some older folks may still be using paper and pencils, old-school check registers, big, clunky CRT monitors, and other “ancient” (in terms of technological advancements) tools to run their businesses. Many of those people believe in the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. If the current methods of running a business are producing acceptable results, then there is no reason to tinker with what has been working up to this point, right? WRONG! I’ll tell you why.
If you are the type that is ok with mediocrity, and can live with “acceptable” result, then this article and my advice may not be for you, so I will excuse you from reading any further with no hard feelings If, on the other hand, you don’t like to settle for “good enough” and want to push your productivity into overdrive, you may want to pay attention…
Use multiple monitors
How many times have you tried to work on something that required you to flip back and forth between two different programs or even multiple instances of the same program like entering data into a spreadsheet from a different file, or researching on the internet while writing a paper or or letter? How about switching over to your email or calendar application throughout the day? Create a website based on ideas from others that you’ve seen? It’s pretty frustrating to work with several different programs using only a single monitor.
Imagine how much faster or how much faster you can accomplish your tasks is you were able to see multiple programs at the same time. How much time do you think you would save just by eliminating the need to continuously go back and forth between the different programs? Most likely you would save enough time to be able to complete more tasks in the same amount of time.
Bonus advantage: By getting a setup like the one pictured above, you can actually reclaim plenty of desk space, which will help you to be less cluttered which can also lead to increased productivity. Plus, it just looks cleaner than clunky CRT displays too.
Take it to the cloud
The way the internet is growing these days, if you aren’t taking advantage off all that it has to offer, you are losing out! If you are still relying on hard copies of documents and reference materials, you are holding yourself back in a bad way. It’s understandable that some people need the tactile quality that paper provides, as I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There are some people who simply need to be able to have a file with all of the documentation relating to a client, job, or project in their hand. It doesn’t matter to them that it may be an inefficient way to manage documents; it’s more of a psychological issue for them.
If you can break yourself of that limitation, or if you are already a quick adopter of new technology, you can benefit greatly by getting your work in the cloud! Think about it: immediate access to documents whenever you need it, the ability to share data and collaborate with a team or other colleagues no matter where you are, a reduced need for onsite storage capabilities and therefore reduced spending on office supplies. The options are virtually (no pun intended) limitless.
Bonus advantage: Any reasonably priced desktop scanner can turn any paper document (contract, receipt, invoice, bill, etc.) into a PDF file or other document format. You can then upload those documents into your online storage site for easy portability.
Trade in your brick or flip-phone
Wireless devices are becoming increasingly powerful these days. They are able to not only make phone calls and send text messages, but are now able to create content. You can use it to manage your social network connections, get on video conferences, manage bank accounts, and a wide array of other business related tasks. And, they are increasingly more affordable. If you use a site like Let’s Talk you can get a phone for a drastically reduced price with free shipping and oftentimes no activation fees.
Let’s not forget about tablets either as they are advancing at a remarkable pace. Some businesses are even giving them to employees and many schools are using them instead of traditional laptops dues to their increased portability plus the advantage of touch screen control. Many are even more powerful than laptops in that they combine the regular computing power of their cousins with other features such as built-in cameras and access to a veritable smorgasbord of downloadable apps. And, many can be had at a price that is lower than traditional laptop units.
Bonus advantage: Newer generations of tablets are available without going through a cellular provider. These units that have powerful wifi capabilities built-in can run on any available network connection and will save you the added cost of purchasing a dedicated, secondary wireless access line.
Toss that ledger in the trash
If you are still using a paper check register and those ugly green pads of ledger paper, throw them out already (or burn them, whichever you prefer), as they are severely holding you back. Have you ever had someone call you to say that a check you know was sent never arrived, and subsequently wasted time going through one bank statement after another trying to find the day when it cleared? How about having a client call and ask if they paid you because they couldn’t remember and you had to search through pages of a check register to find it?
If you converted to a program like QuickBooks, you would never have those problems. You would have all of your transactions at your fingertips. Every time you would reconcile an account you would see right away which transactions had cleared and which were still outstanding. You could attach a receipt or bill to a transaction electronically and have that information associated permanently so you don’t lose track of anything. Creating financial statements, whether for your own information or to send to a bank or other creditor, would take a few clicks of your mouse rather than hours of compiling data manually.
Bonus advantage: working with your accountant is as easy as creating a file to email for them to have complete access to your records. You can still work on future transactions so you wouldn’t fall behind, then simply merge the data effortlessly when they are done.
Some people are afraid of change, and have a hard time adapting to new technology or new processes. Some people are afraid of technology itself. Then again, one of the qualities of a successful entrepreneur is taking calculated risks. Implementing a new strategy to increase efficiency and productivity is a calculated risk that has many more benefits than drawbacks, so jump in and see what these simple changes can do for you.